• Nick Hamer

Watford (A) | Pre-Match Review

Watford vs Sheffield United 05/10/2019

English Premier League

Sheffield United will be hoping to bounce back from the gut-wrenching defeat to Liverpool against a Watford side already appearing resigned to propping up the league table.

Last Time Out

Watford 3 (Graham 10, Taylor 57, Jenkins 86) - 0 Sheffield United - 12/03/2011

npower Championship

The fact that this is the first time that Watford and Sheffield United have played each other in over 8 and a half years says a lot about the 2 clubs respective trajectories over recent years.

For Blades fans, it’s another horrible reminder of the dreadful relegation season.

Micky Adams’ side were down to 9 men by the end of the first half when one of my least favourite United players of all time, Darius Henderson, was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 28th minute.

His first booking coming in the 14th minute, 4 minutes after Danny Graham’s opener. It was also Henderson’s first start since April 2010 due to a hamstring injury. All of the above sums him up pretty well, don’t you think?

Whilst you can’t begrudge a player for injuries, he was a liability and a walking red card. Which was probably good for the Christmas party, what with all the fines and all.

Lee Williamson was then given a straight red with 34 minutes on the clock for a hefty challenge on Don Cowie.

Both players were playing against their former club that afternoon. You could say that it’s an awful coincidence that both got sent off, but then again, lovely Lee would never have done such a thing.

Henderson on the other hand? Well, let's just say you wouldn’t have put it past the bastard.

Adams didn’t make a substitution until the 60th minute (I suppose what can you do with 9 men?). 3 minutes after Martin Taylor put Watford 2-0 up before Ross Jenkins put horrible shithouse Malky Mackay’s team 3 goals to the good in the 86th.

The Watford team that day also featured Scott Loach, Lloyd Doyley, Lee Hodson, Adrian Mariappa, Don Cowie, John Eustace and Troy Deeney. Which screams Watford in the championship in the early 2010s. Deeney is still with the club and is their captain. Surprisingly, Mariappa is still there too albeit after moves to Reading and Crystal Palace.

Sheffield United’s back 4 consisted of Shane Lowry, Nyron Nosworthy, Neil Collins and Joe Mattock. No wonder we went down.

Summer at Watford

Notable Ins: Ismaila Sarr (£30m, Rennes), Craig Dawson (£5.5m West Bromwich Albion), Danny Welbeck (Free, Arsenal),

Notable Outs: Dodi Lukebakio (£18m, Hertha Berlin), Stefano Okaka (Undisclosed, Udinese), Miguel Britos (Retired), Ben Wilmot (Loan, Swansea), Jerome Sinclair (Loan, VVV Venlo)

It’s fairly difficult to gauge what a successful summer is for Watford, whilst their ownership under the Pozzo family brings a transfer strategy that is fairly unconventional. On paper, the incomings looked good.

Craig Dawson appeared to be a good signing to replace the retiring Miguel Britos and Danny Welbeck got himself a move which meant he didn’t have to move house. What with Watford and Arsenal’s training grounds being pretty close to each other.

Ismaila Sarr, who was linked with Crystal Palace arrived on deadline day for a club-record fee from Rennes, the Senegal international came through the Génération Foot academy, the same academy which produced Sadio Mane.

Dodi Lukebakio was sold to Hertha Berlin after making a grand total of 1 appearance for the club but impressed in the Bundesliga last season with Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Centre forward Stefano Okaka has made the well-trodden path from Watford to Udinese and Ben Wilmot has joined Swansea on loan, having been on loan at Udinese last season.

How Have Watford Started the Season?

It hasn’t started well at all, they’re bottom of the table with 2 points from 7 games and a goal difference of -16.

At this point last season, Watford had taken 13 points from 7 games with a goal difference of +3.

The standout defeats have been the 3-0 at home to Brighton on the opening day, the 3-1 home defeat to West Ham and the 8-0 defeat away to Manchester City, they were 5-0 down after 18 minutes at the Etihad.

The 2 points they have gained this season had come in consecutive games, the 1-1 draw away at St. James’ Park was the last game in charge for Javi Gracia and 2-2 draw at home to Arsenal (a game in which they were 2-0 down at half time) was the first game for Quique Sánchez Flores since returning to the club after leaving in 2016.

The Hornets are still waiting for their first win of the season and their first Premier League win since the win over Huddersfield Town back in April 2019. I sincerely hope we aren’t the team to give them that win.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, they’re in the 4th round of the Carabao Cup after wins over Coventry and Swansea City.

Managers View

Quique Sánchez Flores

“I know how a victory can change the mentality of everyone. We are looking, we are working in the way we can find the solution and the solution is to win, because it is the only thing that can change the manner of the players.” - On how a win could change Watford’s prospects.

“We are no longer preparing matches; we are preparing (for) finals, it is like this, but I am really happy with the response of the players at the training ground.

It is two different things, we are training with them and the tactics are one thing, the mental health is another thing. We need to prepare about the brain, prepare to train this muscle because it’s the main muscle right now.” - On preparation.

Chris Wilder

"We've been pleased we've got the balance right, which I thought we did on Saturday, in terms of the performance, when to go forward, and when to take that opportunity to try and score.

You've got to try and score against these teams! You can't just park yourself on the edge of the box for 95 minutes - that's not our way.” - On scoring goals

"One of their players said they expect to beat us and they should expect to beat us. We're going to have to defend well as a team and be solid. Then we have to take opportunities when they arise. They are an established Premier League club. They should be beating us really." - On Watford

Opposition Style of Play

Quique Sánchez Flores is yet to impose his playing style on this Watford squad, only 2 players in Flores’ final matchday squad during his first spell at the club. One of them being Troy Deeney and the other being reserve goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

During his first period at the club. Flores played either a 4-4-2 or a variation of it in a 4-3-1-2 or an in a diamond. Which could be a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-1-1 on occasions.

Under Gracia last season and in the few games he had in charge this season, they played similar variations of the 4-4-2 previously played under Flores.

However, it is a squad which as a lot of quality, they have talented midfielders in Pererya, Capoue and Doucoure. Deulofeou can be a problem for any side on his side and Andre Gray and Danny Welbeck have both proven themselves as players who can cut it in the Premier League.

When Gracia left the club in September, the main comments in regards to the appointment of Flores was that he could at least, organise a defence.

So far this hasn’t been the case and one can imagine that keeping a solid defensive shape will be their main priority, relying on the more talented and technically gifted players to make things happen.


If we want to stay in this division, we have to be winning games like this and capitalising on teams in such poor form. 1-0 away win.

Betting Picks:

Sheffield United to win at 5/2 (Bet365); Under 2.5 Goals at 4/5 (Bet 365).

Possible XI’s:

Surely it is finally time for Mousset to start? Robinson appears to frustrate more and more as games go by. Sharp should hopefully be back on the bench too.

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